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“It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.” – Neil Armstrong (1930-2012)

Fresh Reads from the Science 'o sphere!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Seven Rolls Of Toilet Paper

On the 27th of February, Mas Selamat Kastari, a leader of the terrorist group Jemaah Islamiah (JI), escaped from the Whitley Road Detention Centre. The full report of this incident was presented by Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Mr. Wong Kan Seng in Parliament yesterday.

You can click the links below for more details about the report:

His window of opportunity (Today Online)

DPM gives full account of Mas Selamat's escape (Straits Times)

The report focused on the human and physical lapses that gave Mas Selamat the opportunity to escape. DPM Wong said that he was shocked and disappointed when first informed of this and added that "all the more when the mistakes have turned out to be so simple as to appear silly and incredible."

As a science blog, Fresh Brainz will not go into the social and political aspects of this news. There are mainstream media sources and numerous socio-political blogs that will discuss those issues at length.

Instead, we would like to examine one mysterious detail about the escape process.

This.

















Huh?!??

What's so special about a toilet paper roll?

A pack of seven toilet paper rolls was discovered on the ground outside the toilet window that Mas Selamat escaped from.

It is thought that the toilet paper pack was used to break his landing when he let go of the water pipe outside the toilet.

That is quite plausible; however, it raises two curious questions.

Why was Mas Selamat carrying a large pack of toilet paper on his way to a family visit? Note that he was blindfolded before being led to the Family Visitation Block.

If the packet was already present in the toilet, why was it placed in a urinal cubicle? Observe that there are only urinals in that part of the toilet, no sitting or squating WC at all (click here to view the timeline, photo of the urinal cubicle and schematic of the toilet floorplan) .

Rather odd for a blindfolded person to hang on to a large pack of toilet paper, and then carry it into a urinal cubicle while being completely unnoticed by the guards.

Fresh Brainz speculates that the pack of toilet paper might have been thrown outside the toilet at an earlier time - not only to break the escapee's fall, but as a method to test the level of survelliance outside the toilet.

Whether that is possible or not, the overall escape process demonstrates Mas Selamat's incredible determination and ingenuity, and underscores the importance of finding him soon.

5 Comments:

Blogter said...

I like your theory about why he threw out the toilet paper. I think it's the most likely one that I've heard so far.

Lim Leng Hiong said...

Thanks Blogter, this hypothesis would explain how he discovered that there is no active surveillance outside the toilet even though he has no knowledge about the security cameras, guards or dogs in that region of the facility.

Of course if the toilet paper pack was only issued on the day, that would refute my idea.

Anonymous said...

"Rather odd for a blindfolded person to hang on to a large pack of toilet paper, and then carry it into a urinal cubicle while being completely unnoticed by the guards?

Exactly!

So Mas could not have done it at any time. A more probable scenario is that there was an accomplice - a visitor to WRDC. After all any visitor using that "visitors' toilet" could have easily been responsible for that roll of toilet paper being there.

Shy Sherlock

Lim Leng Hiong said...

To Shy Sherlock:

Sounds plausible, but still odd that a visitor would bring a nearly full pack of toilet paper into the facility, assuming that detainees would be issued with standard toiletries...

Anonymous said...

still odd that a visitor would bring a nearly full pack of toilet paper into the facility,..

Good point.

It's highly plausible that there are unopened packets of toilet rolls in that toilet for standby use by visitors.

Apply Occam's razor. Which is more plausible? Mas did it unnoticed by the guards. Or an unsupervised accomplice did it.

Oh wait, we are told that the COI has established that there were no accomplices. Mas must have done it ala David Blaine illusion. :-)

Shy Sherlock